World Population Day and Your Carbon Legacy

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Who says that there are too many carbon-based lifeforms?

The United Nations kicked off the first World Population Day on July 11, 1987. World population has risen from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 7 billion later this year. The United Nations released its latest population projections [PDF] back in May:

The high projection variant, whose fertility is just half a child above that in the medium variant, produces a world population of 10.6 billion in 2050 and 15.8 billion in 2100. The low variant, whose fertility remains half a child below that of the medium, produces a population that reaches 8.1 billion in 2050 and declines towards the second half of this century to reach 6.2 billion in 2100. For long-term trends the medium variant is taken as reference.

The medium-variant projection for 2050 is more certain than for 2100 because people who will be 40 years and older in 2050 are already born. According to the medium variant, it will take 13 years to add the eighth billion, 18 years to add the ninth billion and 40 years to reach the tenth billion.

High fertility is associated with lower life expectancies. The U.N. report notes that the highest fertility countries have an average life expectancy of just 56 years. The good news is that the U.N. expects that life expectancies among high-fertility countries to rise to 69 years in 2045-2050 and to 77 in 2095-2100. Total fertility rates plummet [PDF] when women can expect to live more than 60 years. Improving life expectancy trends could put the world population on the lower variant trend toward a population peak in 2050 with a decline thereafter.

World Population Day Bonus: Researchers at Oregon State University have helpfully calculated the carbon legacy [PDF] that breeders leave behind with each additional child:

Under current conditions in the United States, for example, each child adds about 9441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average female, which is 5.7 times her lifetime emissions. A person's reproductive choices must be considered along with his day-today activities when assessing his ultimate impact on the global environment.

As someone who is voluntarily childless, where do I pick up my carbon credits? At say, $50 per ton, that would come to nearly $500,000 per forgone child.

For more background see my columns, "The Invisible Hand of Population Control," and "Why Are People Having Fewer Kids?" (BTW, the answer to the question in the second column is it's because they don't like them very much.)

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  1. After experiencing my daughter inhale for a solid 7 seconds before belting out a hypersonic, window shattering, scream the likes of which make the dolphins in Port Royal and the dogs at Chevenry writhe in pain, that 9441 number seems low.

    Glad I am doing my part to destroy the planet and annoy ears.

    1. p.s. worrying about this shit is stupid.

      1. But if humans go extinct, the atmosphere will return to balance, and make things safer and more pleasant for everyone… oh, wait….

    2. Does she also empty her lungs out and turn purple before inhaling to start the scream cycle again?

      That was my son’s specialty when he was a few days old.

      1. this has occured but usually just the one is all that is needed to stop the rotation of the planet.

  2. Eats demz fucking childrenz

    1. There needs to be a comma in there somewhere, John.

      1. God damned grammar Nazis. Next you’re probably going to correct my spelling.

        1. Before there were grammar Nazis…
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..re=related

  3. A person’s reproductive choices must be considered along with his day-today activities when assessing his ultimate impact on the global environment.

    Given gov’t proclivity for regulating these sorts of things for our own good, does anyone else find the implications of that sentence frightening?

    1. I’m going to have fifty kids now, just to forestall in regulation in this area. The four I already have, one more the traditional way, plus 45 clones.

    2. I guess I’ll have to retire “I’d love to have big family, too!” from my canon of lines that work on girls while I’m pretending to be someone who picks up girls at bars on the internet.

    3. “Given gov’t proclivity for regulating these sorts of things for our own good, does anyone else find the implications of that sentence frightening?”

      Not at all.

    4. The air you are exhaling is a dangerous pollutant.

  4. So clearly the answer to the not-really-a-problem population issue is to increase prosperity among the third world nations so that they too can watch their fertility rates driven below the the total fertility rate of replacement- 2.33 children per woman. Most European countries are already there, and once this happens population levels will plummet world wide.

    So how do we make these countries more prosperous?

    Free markets, individual liberty- the only thing proven in history to alleviate the conditions which prevent true prosperity.

    1. Tman: What I said in the Invisible Hand column I referenced.

      1. I remember reading that piece which broke it down well.

        There is the reverse problem with population that doesn’t get mentioned as often as the scare-mongering carbon-rationing Malthusians message of fertility control, and that is nations that fail to reproduce enough to replace their aging populations.

        China is going to have a massive imbalance in their population over the next several decades due to the fact that they used centrally planned government force to prevent over-population. The end result is that they are heading well below the replacement rate, and eventually they will have a generation of seniors that are living longer and using up resources, and an insufficiently sized younger population to support them.

        The fertility replacement problem in China is yet another fine example of centrally planned socialist/communist policies that exacerbate the given problems (government over reach, forced sterility and abortions) and create new ones (failure to reproduce a replacement generation).

        1. I’m tired of scaremongering on this subject. Old people can work. In fact they always have except for the last 80 years, when this concept of “retirement” and playing petty-aristocrat for the last 1/2/3/ 4 decades of your life became the norm.

          1. The difference is that the definition of “old” continually gets pushed further back as technology and prosperity increases life-expectancy. It used to be that someone aged 65 was reaching their final hours, whereas today 65 year olds are still working.

            1. They are? I thought the problem was that most AREN’T working, and thats the whole issue with “replacement rates” and social-security insolvency and what not. They retire at 65 and then hang around as resource sinks for the next 20-50 years (some people get really fkin old).

              1. No, the problem is that people are living longer, period. My dad is 67 and he still works 50 hours a week (anecdotal I know, but still). People are living well beyond the retirement age, whereas this was not the case decades ago. Add in the fact that technology is extending the lives of the elderly who are truly incapable of working, but completely capable of expending vast resources to live longer as their health deteriorates.

        2. With a still growing world population, that is a distribution problem.

  5. As someone who is voluntarily childless

    Yeah, and I voluntarily went home solo from the bar last night.

    1. Well, I, on the other hand got cock-blocked. Can I count this as a net reduction in my carbon footprint?

    2. Then you’re familiar with “the invisible hand”.

  6. Can we use this to convince liberals not to reproduce?

    Probably not. They seem to be immune from persuasion and only respect threat of violence in the form of legislation.

    Oh well. It was a nice thought.

    1. Force Benicio del Toro to act in an anti-reproduction movie, and Hollywood dies out within a generation. After all, winning awards for glorifying Che “the only good commie is a dead commie” Guevara and then dedicating one of them to Che himself ought to give you street cred among the liberal cuntwads!

  7. The high projection variant, whose fertility is just half a child above that in the medium variant, produces a world population of 10.6 billion in 2050 and 15.8 billion in 2100.

    All those customers. [swoon]

    Seriously, is it just a huge freaking coincidence that global economic well-being rises as global population rises?

    1. ther r mor poor ppl 2 toil 4 the rich corporashunz and the corporat fatkats get rich but its not rly well-bein cuz the union guys at union number 354646464646 didn get a bloated enuff salary, its just da fat kat whoo keep the monies!!!

      PROLETARIANS OF ALL NATIONS, UNITE!

    2. Extrapolation assumes that nothing else changes. Which makes it useless over any significant period from when the data were drawn.

  8. Remember, (inhales) one out of every 7 billion people (exhales) is you.

  9. So does that mean I should get a carbon credit every time I use a condom?

    1. Can I get one for killing a homeless person?

      1. Only if you are killing him…or her….for food.

  10. Is there really anything we can do about this?

  11. As someone who is voluntarily childless, where do I pick up my carbon credits?

    Ron Ron Ron. You don’t get a monetary award for saving the planet. Basking in the warmth of Gaia’s glowing appreciation should be reward enough. Besides, this is about compulsion, not credits. How do we punish the carbon creators? Bend your will to answering that, Comrade.

    1. “How do we punish the carbon creators?”

      Cough up the money to cover yourself and your children’s carbon footprint or become a green cracker.

  12. The carrying capacity of the earth is virtually unlimited. Aside from

    1. FFFUUUUU. This site and its inability to post “less than” symbols is pitiful. Get squared your html damn.

      Anyway… Aside from [LESS THAN] 1% of the earth’s surface, humans only occupy a single Z-coord, and [LESS THAN] 20% of that.

      1. “Aside from < 1% of the earth’s surface, humans only occupy a single Z-coord, and < 20% of that.”

      2. We concur.

        1. And PL is a smarty pants.

          1. I was just trying to be helpful. Just like I was when I suggested that South Dakota should change its name to North Florida.

            1. Do you just put it in quotes or was there some html you did?

              1. It’s between the M and the > on a western keyboard.

  13. High fertility is associated with lower life expectancies.

    Uh-oh… The Duggars are doomed!!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/19_Kids_and_Counting

  14. Under current conditions in the United States, for example, each child adds about 9441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average female, which is 5.7 times her lifetime emissions.

    There are two solutions to this:

    One, ZPG licensing laws.

    Or, better: Two, tar and feather anyone who comes up with silly and meaningless statistics like the above.

    A person’s reproductive choices must be considered along with his day-today activities when assessing his ultimate impact on the global environment.

    Must be considered by whom? The person making the choice, or the asshole busybody with too much time in his hands to ponder about the reproductive choices HE would face if he were less nerdy?

  15. Under current conditions in the United States, for example, each child adds about 9441 metric tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of an average female, which is 5.7 times her lifetime emissions.

    Anyone else find this math fishy? Given all the newfangled anti-carbon tech, I’d think that kids born today would produce less of the stuff than their mothers, not several times more.

  16. The United Nations kicked off the first World Population Day on July 11, 1987. World population has risen from 2.5 billion in 1950 to 7 billion later this year.

    I remember when, back in 1987, everybody who had their brain removed by college was talking about horrific Malthusian predictions about famines and pestilence and not enough toilet paper (because of deforestation,) all due to increased population growth. People expected to live in post-apocalyptic worlds where only the beefiest of the leather-clad would survive the vast wastes of middle Australia. How times have changed…

    1. I remember my 1972 World Book Encyclopedia predicting that world population would hit 8 billion by the year 2000.

  17. So if I understand the statistic correctly, my mother is responsible for all of my (and my future children’s) carbon emissions. So I can do whatever I feel like without the carbon police coming after me, right?

  18. $500,000 per forgone child? Damn being I come from an Irish Catholic family that means I would be getting $6,000,000 for the kids I chose not to have. I mean if the UN is getting all eugenics with this overpopulation thing then instead of forced sterilization just pay people not to have kids…

    1. How long until somebody starts offering money to sterilize people? How long after that until some jackass prank calls sterilization centers wishing to sponsor the sterilization of blacks?

  19. The only thing worse than having children: having step-children.

    1. Re: Matto,

      The only thing worse than having children: having step-children.

      Only those that loathe you, Matto.

  20. The high projection variant, whose fertility is just half a child above that in the medium variant…

    What do they mean “just half a child” — that sounds like a pretty significant change in assumptions when the mean is something over 2.1!

  21. Spreading the thoroughly-debunked overpopulation/”limits to growth” nonsense? (Along with the implicit claims that government must sterilize people or tax families.)

    So, Mr. Bailey, why not put your money where your mouth is: you side with Paul Ehrlich on an issue and, whatever it is, I’ll just bet the opposite.

    “World population day”. What crap. This site is looking less and less libertarian and more and more neo-con/faux liberal every day. It almost makes me suspicious that Radley Balko wasn’t forced out.

    http://overpopulationisamyth.com/

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